A smoker holds a cigarette in a file photo. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
California has taken another leap forward in efforts to ban indoor smoking, after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 626 into law earlier this month, which closes loopholes in the state’s existing law, from the 1990s, which allowed 20 percent of guestrooms in a hotel, motel, or other similar lodging to permit lighting up.
“California led the nation in the 1990s when it passed laws banning indoor smoking. But, that ban contained a loophole allowing every hotel and motel in California to decide for themselves whether to allow smoking in their rooms … In 2023, it’s time to close that loophole,” the bill’s author Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park) said in a press release last February introducing the bill.
California was often referred to as “America’s Non-Smoking Section,” according to a May Senate analysis of the bill, after it became the first state in the country in 1994 to ban smoking in nearly every workplace—including most indoor public spaces.
But under the original law, such was still allowed in some hotel and motel guestrooms, tobacco or smoking shops, medical research and treatment sites, and theatrical production sites—for performances—according to the California Department of Public Health.
The new law only cuts motels and hotels out of the mix.
Those in support of the bill include the American Cancer Society and the American Heart and California Medical associations as well as the American Lung Association of California.
“The state of California has long recognized the effect of secondhand smoke and has taken major steps to reduce exposure: it is time to finally make all hotels in the state 100% smokefree,” the American Lung Association of California wrote in support of the bill in a Senate analysis.
No opposition to the bill was recorded.